Monday, 15 February 2010

KESWICK 34k (OR 34.6k !)

I did enjoy yesterday’s race at Keswick. It’s a nice low key event. It doesn’t seem to attract a large field and I don’t know if that’s because it is low key and not very well publicised or if the severity of the hills puts a lot of people off.
Certainly it’s a strange distance – 34k. Or more accurately 34.6k - this year as the organisers had to make a slight detour due to some local bridge works near the end.
Anyway. What about my run? Well; I don’t know how to feel to be honest. Didn’t do as well as I’d wanted, but in truth I did better than I should have given the type of training I’ve done lately. This is a road race – but it’s a hilly one. A very, VERY hilly one.
The first big climb comes just after the 10k mark and is Honister Pass – and it’s a complete bitch. Pull the brim of the cap down low, try to shut out all external stimuli and just dig in and suffer all the way to the top!
The first 10k had been run in biting cold conditions, but by the time I was half way up here I was grateful that I’d opted to leave the jacket back at the start.
Got to the top and my legs were like jelly – just in time to start the long and steep descent. For once I tried not to hold back and just "drop" to the valley below.
Thought I was managing quite well. Then a car came up beside me and slowed down to my pace – so that the passenger could have a chat with me as I tried to race my way to the bottom! I was trying to go all out and maintain my footing while they were bombarding me with questions – "where had we started?" "Where were we headed?" "Was it for charity?"
Answered as well as I could, as pleasantly as I could under the circumstances and they drove off to leave me to my lung busting "fun".
After that there is an "undulating" road through Buttermere.
It’s going through Buttermere that you meet all the "New Wave Wainwright Walkers" as I call them. All the gear and no idea!! Kitted out to the nines in layer upon layer of gortex this and fleece lined that walking along with the aid of two graphite carbon walking poles. You could probably market and sell gortex "Y" fronts to some of these bozzos. You could see the look of incredulity on their faces as dozens of bulging eyed runners dressed in little more than shorts and vests descended through the mists towards them (so surprised were most of them that they didn’t even have the sense to stop walking four abreast to make room!)
Once through Buttermere and the hordes of mint-cake totting walkers you turn and have another bugger of a climb at Derwent Fells. Luckily here the mist was hanging to the hills – so you couldn’t really see the magnitude of the task ahead.
That’s the last real big climb and the final 7k or so is mainly "undulating" (that’s a euphemism for "hilly" you know).
I had obviously set off a bit too quick as a few guys passed me in the last few kilometres (always a depressing thing to happen).
Got to the end in 2:40:30. About 3:30 slower than the last time I did this and even taking the extra 0.6K into account – that’s still slower.
So – it’s a bit of a wake up call! I can’t simply put it down to my injury last year and the crappy weather. To borrow a gardening term; I haven’t "over wintered" well this year. I’m not coming into the spring as well as I should.
What’s wrong? Well looking at my records I’ve not done as many long slow runs as I have in previous years. This was obvious – my legs felt ok for most of the race on Sunday, but I just didn’t feel I had the reserves of stamina that I should have.
Looking forward to getting the cross country out of the way (one on Saturday then another a week on Sunday) then spend some time at the weekend’s getting out for a few hours at a time.

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